Home Demolitions - Introduction

Since it occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967, Israel continues to carry out its policy of arbitrarily demolishing Palestinians’ homes.

In fact, since 1948, when the Haganah, Irgun, and Stern Gang depopulated and/or destroyed more than 500 Palestinian villages, Israel  has continued to destroy the residences of the Palestinian people. To date, Israel has toppled more than 24,000 Palestinian homes, according to the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions. 

In the first six months of 2010, more than 3,000 other Palestinian-owned structures had pending demolition orders. Entire communities have been forcefully displaced in the aftermath of Israeli demolitions. In the Jordan Valley, some families are forced to relocate time and again as the Israeli military destroys each new structure shortly after its built. Demolitions in Jerusalem prevent Muslim and Christian families from maintaining ties to the Holy City.

During Operation Cast Leas, Israel three-week assault on Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009, the Israeli military destroyed or damaged more than 11,000 Palestinian homes, leaving at least 100,000 people homeless, according to human rights groups Al Haq and Al Mezan.

Israel contends the demolitions are necessary because the living structures are built without proper Israeli permits.However, almost every Palestinian who applies for a building permit is denied, according to the United Nations and other humanitarian organizations. This practice is a convenient way for Israel to displace Palestinians in an effort to “encourage” them to relocate elsewhere – preferably outside Palestine.

The Israeli government uses building permits to regulate the construction of Palestinian buildings the West Bank as well as various other zones in Palestine. However, “the issuance of building permits is based on a discriminatory policy” that persistently denies permits to Palestinians while allowing Israelis to continue expanding settlements throughout the West, according to a report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), a Norway-based organization that  monitors internal displacement.  Israeli settlements and structures are allowed to expand at the expense of Palestinian livelihood. 

The displaced population finds it difficult to gain access to basic necessities such as clean water and health services. A recent study by Save the Children shows that while families suffer from worsening socioeconomic conditions, children in particular suffer the greatest consequences.

American Muslims for Palestine, 2012